Sunday, April 13, 2014

Closer to Home: On Beginning the Sequence with Me

I know. It's been a couple of weeks this time. I've told myself that it's okay. I was busy the last couple of weekends - busy with good things, even. Spending time with close friends is important. But still I've been beating up on myself a bit about letting it go that long. As it happens, though, the tenth lojong tenet is about self-compassion.
Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.
How did I get self-compassion from that odd phrase? Like I always do: I'm a librarian, so I research. My inevitable first stop was The translation there is even shorter: "Begin the sequence of taking with you." That seems like self-something, but not self-compassion. To my thinking, that sounds like selfishness. Their explanation wasn't much help either:
"Note how you react to the suffering of others or your own happiness and wellbeing [sic]. Do taking and sending with your own reactions first. When they release into awareness, then do taking and sending with others." (Source.)
I do have some context for "taking and sending," but I'm not sure about "release into awareness."

When I moved onto Tricycle, that's when things clicked into place. So much so that it's hard to pick a quote that resonates most. "We need to look into our many layers of suffering, including everything from physical pain, emotional confusion, regrets, anxieties, fears, the whole deal. We cannot hide out," hit hard. I have been known to hide from issues and pretend everything is hunky-dory. But then I read this:
"It is to be compassionate to yourself as well as other beings. Seeing clearly the nature of your own suffering is a way to understand more clearly the suffering of others."
I get self-conscious when I have an acne break out - like everyone else. I feel overwhelmed when I hear of yet another episode of school violence - like everyone else. I have unreasonable fears, fervent hopes, and silly nightmares - like everyone else. It's that commonality that lets me be compassionate, both towards others and towards myself.

So I'll be practicing some introspection this week... figuring out the sources of pains, both big and small. After all, in the words of one of my favorite (fakey fake) philosophers, Henri:

We cannot escape ourselves.

Until next time, namaste and all that.